Kash Jain ’24,
Disclaimer: this article contains spoilers for Skyfall and No Time to Die.
With the release of Daniel Craig’s final escapade as James Bond, many are left wondering what the future of the character — and the franchise — looks like.
An important consideration going forward is representation. In the near-60 years and 25 movies made by Eon Productions, all six Bond actors have been white men, leading many to ask whether a woman or person of color should play Bond.
Craig himself recently shared his thoughts, saying that “there should simply be better parts for women and actors of color. Why should a woman play James Bond when there should be a part just as good as James Bond, but for a woman?”
With the introduction of Lashana Lynch’s Nomi and Ana de Armas’s Paloma in No Time to Die, there are at least two existing spies who could have their own movies, both of which could also involve other existing characters such as Moneypenny, Q, or Felix Leiter. The universe of the Craig Bond has room left to explore and stories to tell that do not need to center on Bond. With the massive success of franchises such as the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it is clear that there is an appetite for having a world with multiple, deep characters. Taking this route could help grow the franchise’s audience substantially.
However, as stated by No Time to Die’s post-credit line, “James Bond Will Return,” the titular character must continue in one way or another, regardless of whether other characters get their own movies.
If there is one takeaway from the Craig era, it is that James Bond can change. Bond morphed from a stony killer into a man with emotion and depth. Some fans prefer the more action-oriented, relatively unchanging Bonds of the past, but the simple truth is that the character must change. The version of James Bond that reflects an antiquated, romanticized view of the world is not what the modern era needs. The era of a Bond that lacks significant development is over — and it should stay that way, because the audience needs a character that can grow.
If an evolving Bond means the character being played by someone who is not a white man, then that is the direction the producers should go in. Though the Craig era did pull Bond away from the misogyny of Fleming’s character, Bond still has a ways to go — and someone who is not a white man in the starring role could help accomplish this.
Either way, continuing with movies that have major connections that facilitate Bond’s growth as a character or, at the very least, continuous growth across unconnected films is a better option than the alternative. Stand-alone adventures focused on flashy gadgets, daring stunts, and occasionally ridiculous henchmen without Bond developing much may be entertaining, but the modern Bond needs more than that. The newfound seriousness and character development of Casino Royale, Skyfall, and now No Time to Die made these films great, and Eon should continue that.
Perhaps the most outside-the-box option would be to travel back in time, exploring a younger James Bond and the character’s origins. While Skyfall offered viewers an origin story for Bond, there is still much about the character’s early days that has been left unexplored. A younger Bond — and a younger actor, such as someone like Tom Holland who said in March that playing the character would be a “dream come true” — could help attract a new audience.
If Eon decided to reboot the series, starting with a younger Bond could be a viable option, as this would allow room for the character to grow even more than he did during the Craig years. Also, given that the franchise has moved beyond Fleming’s works, there is room to create new stories with a pre-007 Bond. Even if this is a bit far-fetched, it is an interesting option.
It is clear Eon has several directions that they can bring Bond and the franchise as a whole in. Regardless of what direction they choose, the future of the franchise holds much to look forward to.
However, there is one option that I would caution against: continuing the Craig Bond with another actor. This iteration of James Bond has come to an end with Craig’s departure, and it should stay that way — with a character who has grown and completed his arc.
As Nomi said, “the world’s moved on, Commander Bond,” — and, now, so should he.